AFTERLIFE: THERE ARE NOT ONLY PITS IN HELL BUT AS SO MANY EXPECT, THERE IS ALSO THE FIRE
When we left off, two weeks ago, in discussing hell, it involved descriptions from classic sources such as Saint Teresa of Avila -- who in vision found herself in a place of caverns and dark pits remarkably similar to what is described in some near-death experiences.
The recent depictions -- of a netherworld -- are sobering, even startling.
While the majority of those who come back from death describe a blissful state (either in Heaven or, after the beatific vision, on the way to purgation), it's negligent not to realize that there is a place called sheol, or Gehenna, or hell that is for those who lived a life only for sensuality and riches, for themselves; ignored the existence of God (had no belief in Him, and even held a disdain); and hated others.
It is not pleasant; it is important.
One man from Oregon named Thomas Welch described what he encountered as a tremendous "lake of fire" after his brush with death after falling from a trestle on a conveyor at a sawmill.
"The locomotive engineer watched me go all the way down into the water," he recalled. "The next thing I knew I was standing near a shoreline of a great ocean of fire. It happened to be what the Bible says it is in Revelation 21:8.
"I remember more clearly than any other thing that has ever happened to me in my lifetime every detail of every moment, what I saw and what happened during that hour I was gone from the world. I was standing some distance from this burning, turbulent, rolling mass of blue fire. As far as my eyes could see it was just the same. A lake of fire and brimstone."
While Welch didn't see anyone directly in it, others have, including seers like those at Fatima. "I saw other people whom I had known that had died when I was thirteen," recounted this man, for our discernment. "Another was a boy I had gone to school with who had died from cancer of the jaw that had started with an infected tooth while he was just a young lad. He was two years older than I. We recognized each other, even though we did not speak. They, too, were looking and seemed to be perplexed and in deep thought, as though they could not believe what they saw."
Were they simply being shown the place -- as opposed to headed there? God does warn. Also: some confuse lowest purgatory with hell (especially non-Catholics who don't believe in purgatory).
It makes us wonder.
A doctor named Maurice Rawlings, who specialized in cardiovascular diseases at the Diagnostic Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee, logged that and a number of similar cases -- arguing that all was not glimmering and bliss and light after death.
"As I stood near that enormous pit of fire, no immediate attackers seemed to be threatening, so this gave me a moment to take in my surroundings," recalled another fellow who passed and returned, Bill Wiese, whose experience occurred (at three a.m.) in 1998 and who wrote a book about it.
"It was raining fire and burning rock, similar to the way lava falls from the sky when a volcano explodes. The smoke from the flames was very thick, allowing visibility for only a short distance, but what I could see was horrifying. I saw many people reaching out of the pit of fire, desperately trying to claw their way out. But there was no escape. I turned my head, and I noticed that I was standing in the middle of a cave. The wall wrapped around me and led to the vast expanse of the pit.
"As I looked at the walls, I saw that they were covered with thousands of hideous creatures. These demonic creatures were all sizes and shapes. Some of them had four legs and were the size of bears. Others stood upright and were about the size of gorillas. They were all terribly grotesque and disfigured. It looked as though their flesh had been decomposing and all their limbs were twisted and out of proportion. Some displayed immense, long arms or abnormally large feet. They seemed to be the living dead. There were also gigantic rats and huge spiders at least three feet wide and two or three feet high. I also saw snakes and worms, ranging from small to enormously large. I was petrified and could not believe my eyes."
It's not something we like to report on; someone must.
Hell does exist, and in hell the surroundings match what is in our interior.
Hatred manifests. Filth becomes exoteric.
Contrast this with Heaven:
"A throng of cheering, brightly smiling, laughter-filled young men and women, their faces radiant with the glowing health of youth, wanted to join them," said a near-deather named Terry James. "I had never been more at peace, absolute calm surrounding me... within me. This was life at its apex, and I moved forward, my desire to be with them as powerful as their allure.
"A vividly colorful ambience generated by their love was overwhelming -- like the sun's radiance that warms to the core. Momentarily I would be with them, a part of them. Nothing else entered my mind -- not questions of where I was, not thinking about where I had been. I was here. This was real, and the reality was all-embracing."
All the love in the world -- multiplied by the eternal.
[resources: afterlife books]
[Note also: Michael Brown retreats: Connecticut!]
[Michael Brown's books]
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